M&S First Self-Service Shopping System

Discussion and activity ideas

This resource is part of an 'Innovation' theme intended to provide a broad picture of the development of M&S innovations, using selected items from the M&S Company Archive collection of images. The overall aim of the innovation related resources is to show changes in the history of the Company, and how these link to social history and world events.

This page suggests ways in which the material in this resource can be used with different subjects, as classroom or homework activities.

KS2/3 Enterprise Learning

  • Today we take it for granted that we can walk around a shop and choose what we want, we 'serve ourselves' - self service. What do you think it was like to not be able to do that? How would our behaviour have been different?

KS2/3 Geography

  • Map where the foods we now commonly find in supermarkets come from. Think about why and how they have become more available.
KS2/3 Business Studies
  • Has technology improved self service shopping? If so, how? If not, how not?
  • Think about all the advantages of self service shops in 1948 and today, to both the shopper and the retailer.  And what are the disadvantages? There might also be risks to the retailer to consider.
  • M&S introduced the innovative idea of self service as far back as 1948, and most shops have since adopted this practice. Carry out some research with older people, and ask what they remember about shopping in the past and how it compares to today.

KS2/3 History - 21st Century

  • Make a list of different food items we can buy easily now that would not have been available in 1948.
KS3 Economics
  • Imagine shopping for the family in 1900, 1945 and 2013:
    • what kind of shops would there be?
    • who would do the shopping?
    • where would the shops be?
    • how would you get to them? 
    • what would you need to take with you?
    • how would you pay?
KS2/3 Art & Design,

  • Different periods in history have recognisable design styles e.g the Art Deco style in the Birmingham shop can be identified by the lighting. Imagine you are designing a shop of your own and you want it to reflect a particular style from the past, which one would you choose? Research styles by using dates and words like design, style or fashion in your search. 

KS2/3 Design & Technology

  • Choose a style from the past and design lighting for a shop that reflects your choice.

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